Hi! I am Karen Pope and I am retired. Don’t let that put you off because I am going to explore what it means to be retired, on a budget, without a 6 to 8 figure 401K to supplement my income. I am a real person with a real story, real struggles, and a real desire to get the most out of my life away from the drudgery of an office. Mostly, I am a writer.
My basic facts are these: I was born in the 1950’s, live in a 126-year-old house in Virginia, I am retired and spend a great deal of my time writing. I have lived through the Kennedy assassination, civil rights, Neil Armstrong on the moon, and 9/11/2001. I have seen the Vietnam war, the war in Middle East, the war on drugs, Star Wars, and the war between men and woman. I have written hundreds of short stories and essays and a handful of novels. Only one novel was (self) published and one poem published in a collection.
I crochet, cook, have a veggie garden, an herb garden, a chicken coop full of chickens and I’m not afraid to try new things. I am not sustainable because I live in a city with a city-sized yard. Even with all of that, my favorite tool is my keyboard.
How Do I Tell My Story?
When someone asks for me to tell my story, I always wonder about the best place to start. At one point, I had no home, possessing just a small suitcase of clothes and $26.00 in my pocket. Other times, I have owned houses and cars and had so much surplus that I forgot to pick up my pay check. I have lived paycheck to paycheck. Other times, I scrambled for every penny I could pick up off the street. I have been married, divorced, almost married, and broken-up. I have had six children, some of whom died in infancy. I have owned cats, dogs, birds, fish and chickens, but not all at the same time. I’ve worked at excellent jobs, been fired five times from jobs I didn’t want anyway, and worked at a string of mediocre jobs just to pay the rent. Rags to riches to rags to riches to rags.
Not an easy story to tell. I got my grind from life and experiences. Every set-back made me more determined to succeed at the next greatest idea ever. Sometimes that works.
As impossible as it may seem, I am working on three different novels. At the same time. One is a sequel, one an old idea revisited and one is semi-autobiographical. That is why I understand how difficult it is to write my story.
I have a blog that I try to post to at least once a week. It is a new endeavor in which I am still finding my blogging feet, so to speak. (see https://writerkarenpope.com/) I talk about my new retirement status and writing and saving money and pickling watermelon rinds.
I have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KayFour55 where I post humorous things that I encounter. I think Facebook is where I have the most fun. It is non-political and non- controversial filled with self-deprecating humor and the funny situations I observe when moving from minute to minute. Facebook illustrates my credo, which is, “Find something funny every day.” I even put that on my to-do list.
So it begins…
I am an “Artist” in that I want to help people find beauty in places that are normally very ugly: Like the garbage dump. My younger brother once drew a comparison between us. He looked at the garbage dump and he saw garbage, refuse, broken lives, broken toys, grime, filth.
All those things that tend to define current reality.
He told me that I could look at the same pile of disgust and I would find the tiny little flower growing on top of the mess. I focused on the flower and it became more important than the ugliness underneath. A tiny spot of beauty.
Years later (37 to be precise) I realized I have done that my entire life in so many ways: telling a joke to a depressed friend, smoothing a disgruntled customer’s ruffled feathers with a little self-deprecating humor, lightening the mood for others when things seem at their worst.
So why? To give people hope and to give them a reason to smile… or laugh out loud.
And that brings me to my philosophy:
Find something to laugh at every day. Every day. I even put it on my “to-do” list and check it off when that task is accomplished.
I will write one or two blog posts a week defining my life, my philosophy, and my humor. If you fill in the form below, I will send you a copy of my blog post and maybe you can find something to smile about, too. (I failed in my promise to myself.)
I was born in Northeast Florida and spent most of my life there. I moved to Virginia about 10 years ago to connect with my grandchildren. The grands have moved on to another state, but I stayed in Virginia, because I had a job here and I bought a house here. I have been divorced so long that married life seems like it happened to someone else.
Not having a spouse does have advantages because I don’t have anyone telling me what color the carpet in my bedroom should be and dropping underthings next to the laundry basket instead of in the laundry.
That doesn’t mean I am totally against marriage. I tried it once and it didn’t work out so I moved on.
My older brother moved in with me about six years ago and he helps me out by taking out the trash, feeding my chickens, and doing most of the cooking. We don’t get along that well because he thinks I am an idiot and I know he is. But, he does give me a reason to laugh just about every day.
Some of this information is no longer valid, because my brother is dead and I am faced with a life without any siblings. Both of my brothers have died as a result of their life choices… one died of AIDS and one died of liver failure. One was gay and one was an alcoholic. I never had a sister.
My vegetable garden and my herb garden lies fallow, my chickens went to a new owner and I quit writing for a while. Maybe that will change.